#Malawi President Banda tells off #Madonna

Madonna captured with her Malawian adopted kids in Malawi last Friday
Madonna captured with her Malawian adopted kids in Malawi last Friday

State House in Malawi has made a scathing attack on US pop star Madonna, days after the country’s immigration officials searched her and her security detail – a first since she started coming to Malawi in 2006

President Joyce Banda, who came to power after the death of her mercurial predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika last April, came out strongly against the pop diva in a statement released by her press office saying that Madonna should not have expected to be treated like a VVIP just because she has turned benefactor to Malawi.

“In the feeling of Madonna, the Malawi Government and its leadership should have rolled out a red carpet and blast the 21-gun salute in her honour because she believes that as a musician, the whiff of whose repute flies across international boundaries, she automatically is candidate for VVIP treatment,” the statement reads in part.

Neither the President, the statement says, nor did any official in her [President Banda] government deny Madonna any attention or courtesy during her recent visit to Malawi “because as far as the administration is concerned there is no defined attention and courtesy that must be followed in respect of her.”

Madonna, no stranger to controversy in the poor southern African nation,  last Friday attacked the country’s officials accusing them of mistreating her. She said this through her manager Trevor Neilson hours before she left the poor southern African nation where she is now known for starting projects and abandoning them at her own convenience.

Neilson had said that Madonna will continue her work in Malawi even if the politicians don’t want to welcome her because her work is all about the children and not the politicians.

“In any case, even if the defined parameters of attention and courtesy existed in respect of Madonna, the liberties of discretion to give or not to give that attention or courtesy would ordinarily and naturally remain the preserve of the host. Attention or courtesy is never demanded.

Her manager had also accused President Banda’s sister, Dr Anjimile Oponyo, of using her position and influence to frustrate Madonna’s charity works in Malawi. This was after the Minister of Education Eunice Kazembe had made comments in the local press condemning the pop star for lying about the schools she claims she has built.

Dr Oponyo,  a development worker  with the UN, worked as CEO for the Madonna’s earlier plan to build a state of the art girls school for about 400 girls just outside Lilongwe . She was fired together with the board of her Raising Malawi charity when the project collapsed in 2011.

Oponyo and others  took Madonna to court for unfair dismissal. The matter was later settled out of court but she is among the few that Madonna is yet to pay as per agreement.

The pop diva , who has adopted two children from Malawi, a gesture State House described as a humanitarian gesture and not cause for blackmail.

She  first came under-fire when she announced in January last year  that her Raising Malawi charity was teaming up with the non-profit group buildOn to construct 10 schools, which would educate at least 1,000 children a year.

Malawi has more than half a million children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic and is ranked by the United Nations as one of the world’s 20 least developed countries.

On the two children she adopted from the southern African nation, State House said that Madonna should not use the gesture to blackmail the country’s leadership.

“Madonna has adopted two children from Malawi…this gesture was humanitarian and of her accord. It, therefore, comes across as strange and depressing that for a humanitarian act, prompted only by her, Madonna wants Malawi to be forever chained to the obligation of gratitude…

Kindness, as far as its ordinary meaning is concerned, is free and anonymous. If it can’t be free and silent, it is not kindness; it is something else. Blackmail is the closest it becomes,” State House said.

State House did not also spare the pop star on her claims that she has built 10 schools across the country.

“Among the many things that Madonna needs to learn as a matter of urgency is the decency of telling the truth. For her to tell the whole world that she is building schools in Malawi when she has actually only contributed to the construction of classrooms is not compatible with manners of someone who thinks she deserves to be revered with state grandeur,” reads the statement.

“The difference between a school and a class room should be the most obvious thing for a person demanding state courtesy to decipher.”

No one can tell whether the latest slanging match between State House and Madonna will have any consequence. Will Madonna forever abandon the country of birth for her two adopted children or will President Banda make sure that as long as she remains Head of State, the material girl will not visit Malawi again.